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CNY Community Foundation Develops "Matchmaker" Technology For Local Nonprofits

Central New York Community Foundation

People who struggle with poverty often have to visit multiple locations to receive the help they need. And nonprofits don’t individually have the means to accommodate each need.

Now, there’s a locally developed program that is trying to connect nonprofits and fill in service gaps.

"When two organizations colaborate, you'll hear about it referred to as a courtship," said the Central New York Community Foundation's Frank Ridzi. "So this metaphor of 'Love is in the air.' is not something we came up with, but what we're trying to do is do something similar for the nonprofit sector to what online dating apps have done for the romantic relationship sector."

Ridzi has been heavily involved in the creation of this “dating app” which is called the Performance Management Learning Community. So If you’re a nonprofit using the app, you can share what services you provide and you can share what services your clients need through a survey within the app. Then you can see what other Central New York nonprofits say their clients need and what they are providing.

Hopefully then, two organizations can find each other based off of the survey data and provide the community with holistic services without taking them on individually. 

Peace Inc.'s Development Director Todd Goehle said it’s a better way to offer more. PEACE may not be able to provide a job training, but they can team up with an organization that does. Goehle said they would be able to assist with food insecurity and childcare, which are aspects of people's lives that affect their ability to complete job trainng programs. 

Both Ridzi and Goehle say data confidentiality was a priority for the organizations that are using the app. So everything submitted is anonymous, and it just records data such as if a person is food insecure unemployed, or needs childcare.

"Because no one wants to talk about why they're struggling and especially repeatedly." said Goehle. "So in large part yes it is providing services, but it's also shedding humanity and beign respectful of people who are struggling."

The program continues to change and add more members to the platform to provide even more data-driven connections. Ridzi and Goehle hope that someday the real-time data feature will be more widely used in order to get people services they need faster. Ridzi also sees opportunity to use the data collected in the app for large-scale community assessments.

At the end of 2019, the Central New York Community Foundation awarded a total of over $118,000 in grants to seven organizations to join the next Performance Management Learning Community class, setting up the technology to capture an even greater picture of and who is providing what, where.